Listen, no matter how skillful the story is, or how brilliant the performances are Killing Eve has its minor disappointments just like any other show. But the one this week might have caught you by surprise though, as the sixth episode, ominously titled “End Game,” opens to a living Niko!
Granted he’s in a hospital in London and can’t speak, but still, he’s alive! For what reason? We can’t know. Frankly, I know most of us are amazed he even made it this far, and when he uses his tablet to tell Eve to “piss off, forever” I think we can collectively agree that dead or not, this better be the last we see of him. Initially, Niko served to ground Eve into her normal life just as she began her obsession with Villanelle, he then moved to become an obstacle that confused and impeded Eve’s burgeoning desire for Villanelle, and now, well now he’s really just dead weight that does not move the story or Eve’s character development along in any way. If Niko’s not going to die we better see some divorce papers soon.
Despite his brusque reply, Eve heads back to the Bitter Pill office determined to learn who attacked Niko. While Jamie and Bear play exactly into Dasha’s hands and insist it has to have been Villanelle, Eve won’t accept it. Villanelle knows Niko is off-limits and in a twisted way Eve trusts in Villanelle’s feelings for her that she would not cross that line. Not to mention the fact that Bertha Kruger, wife of the late Charles Kruger, was being murdered at the same time she was in Poland in a very Villanelle-like style, meaning that she couldn’t have been the one to rake Niko in the throat.
Ultimately, it is Bear who solves the puzzle for Eve by revealing the former-KGB assassin Dasha, as the original chalk killer Villanelle was imitating. Eve immediately heads to her assassin-guru, Carolyn to ask her everything she knows about Dasha. What follows is a terse exchange between Eve and Carolyn, trading the wounds and death The Twelve has dealt to each of them. While the takeaway from this exchange might be Carolyn telling Eve to be very careful around Dasha, who was kicked out of the KGB for killing one of their own, it also serves to show how far Eve has come. She used to work for Carolyn, now she questions and challenges her openly and makes impromptu plans to face down these dangerous villains alone.
In Dasha’s case, Eve corners her in a bowling alley. After agreeing to play a game they get to talking. Eve tells her she knows it was her who tried to kill Niko and make it look like Villanelle, Dasha tells her that Villanelle has been promoted to Keeper and is more loyal to her and The Twelve than she could ever be to Eve. It’s not a particularly dramatic scene but the way Eve bowls without even looking at the ball, scoring strike after strike even though it’s her first time, combined with her no-nonsense attitude to Dasha, even correcting her when suggested she had gold medals instead of the actual bronze medals she won, all of it speaks to a confident utterly unafraid Eve who is in complete knowledge and control of her desires. A far cry from the barely functional and completely antisocial Eve we saw at the beginning of this season.
Yet, if Eve is becoming stronger and more secure, Villanelle is only unraveling further and further.
After the disappointing homecoming she had last week, Villanelle looks disheveled and despondent, despite maintaining her signature style. Her meeting with Helene, one of The Twelve, was supposed to raise her spirits as she receives the news that she will officially become a Keeper. But that joy is short-lived as Helene hands her a card for her next assignment, a Romanian politician who has to go. Confused, Villanelle asks why she would be doing the same work she was doing before, as a Keeper she expected to be giving orders not to keep taking them. Sadly, it appears that besides a pay bump and some extra perks nothing’s really changed in her position.
Now drowning in disillusionment, Villanelle takes her troubles to the closest thing she has to a family member, Konstantin. She probably could have ambushed him in a better way than crashing his daughter’s hockey game but then she wouldn’t be the assassin we know and love. Between fighting with his daughter, Villanelle tells him she wants to get out and leave with him. She wants to be done with The Twelve once and for all. He warns her that she will have to be extremely discreet and not to let anyone know what they are going to do and that this exit will force her to abandon everything, including Eve.
Konstantin tells her he will leave instructions for her once he and Irina escape but of course that’s not good enough for her. No, instead of waiting Villanelle shows up to Irina’s school, where it seems like her very compassionate step-father is dropping her off for the day. After she convinces Irina to skip school and come with her she lets the 14-year-old drive a car, and it doesn’t take long for Irina to spill the plan her dad has to steal them away to Cuba.
Konstantin meanwhile has his own fast and furious experience with Carolyn, who has some questions she needs answers too. Her friend Mike, from Scotland Yard, gave her Kenny’s phone records which show that he called a Russian number repeatedly the day before he died. Konstantin, who jumps the gun a little, thought they were talking about Geraldine and admitted she kissed him. Weird, but back to Kenny. He called Konstantin to ask if he was his father, Konstantin responded that he didn’t know and that was it. Carolyn kicks him out of the car leaving him to walk home hours later, where things only get worse for Konstantin.
Waiting for him in the dark is none other than Paul, from the MI6 office. In an earlier scene we learned he was keeping records and emails from coming to Carolyn, leading her to accuse him of working for The Twelve. Now, on Konstantin’s bed, discussing the missing money from The Twelve’s bank account that Charles Kruger was responsible for, it’s pretty clear Paul is playing both sides. Unfortunately for Konstantin, he knows that whoever ordered the hit on Bertha Kruger must know who stole the money and he tasks Konstantin to find them, which in one way won’t be hard since it was him. However, this means the escape plan cannot be put off any longer and he calls Irina and tells her to be ready to leave.
He probably realized that he should have made the effort to leave sooner. Before Villanelle could spend time with, and corrupt his daughter.
When Konstantin shows up to pick up Irina she’s hiding in the car, waiting. But, when her step-father comes out to take the trash she acts on some offhand advice from Villanelle and turns the car on and runs him over right in front of her father, much to his horror. Looks like Konstantin is going to be very busy in the coming episode.
Meanwhile, our original assassin is taking the assignment in Romania to deter suspicion from The Twelve. Yet, no matter how routine the kill might be this time it goes awry. As she’s killing the politician in the makeup room he grabs one of her scissors and stabs her in the arm, causing her to leave a mess of blood and fingerprints that are a far cry from the precise assassin we met in the first place.
Dasha finds her crying and tending the wound in her bathroom, and while Dasha helps her seal it up it’s clear it is not enough. Villanelle comes out and tells her she’s done, she can’t do this anymore.
Now, the name “End Game” might have thrown you off here because nothing was really resolved this episode. Instead, in typical Killing Eve style, what we got was the slow burn of each character being set up on a crash course that will no doubt culminate in the finale. We now have an in-control and unapologetic Eve who set to collide with an extremely vulnerable Villanelle, who after all these years of killing craves connection most right now. Between them we have Carolyn trying to solve the murder of her son, Konstantin trying to escape, and as always the ominous Twelve who will never be hands-off.
Normally, the finale of each season ends with Eve or Villanelle with severe wounds done by each other, but now with their changing dynamic, they could potentially both be in a place where they are ready to recognize and commit to their desire for one another instead of, you know, trying to kill each other. But with all the chaos surrounding them and the people trying to keep them apart, will they even get the chance to be together by the end of this? Like I said, even Killing Eve is not above disappointing its fans once in a while, let’s just hope that they got it out of the way with Niko being alive and that this season’s finale will end without either of our leading ladies being fatally injured. We’re not asking a lot here.